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Old 13th August 2009, 11:24   #1
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Default Mumbai-Amboli-Sawantwadi-Mumbai

In the southern range of Sahyadri hills, there is a quaint hill station at an altitude of 690m., called Amboli. Being on record as the wettest place in Maharashtra, with an average of nearly 750 centimetres (269 inches) of rainfall a year, mainly falling between June and October, it is shrouded in thick fog most of the time.
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This monsoon seemed an ideal time to explore this hazy heaven.

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While going from Mumbai we drove down the 519kms to Amboli via Kolhapur, Sankeshwar, Gadhinglaj and Ajra.
The drive upto Sankeshwar on the Golden Quadrilateral was smooth but beyond that right upto

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Amboli it was a slightly bumpy ride on a two laned pockmarked road. The weather right through was beautiful, cloudy and cool. The last 5kms we drove through clouds – heavenly!

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We checked in at the MTDC resort ‘Green Valley’ which, like all MTDC resorts, is located at a lovely spot.

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It is about 500m from the main road, at the tip of a forested area. Had tea and went exploring around the resort.

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We discovered a deserted Botanical garden cum research centre.

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The empty playing grounds in the foggy deserted area looked eerie and straight out of a horror movie!
Had an early dinner at MTDC which is managed by the famed Vithal Kamaths. The food was reasonably good and the service excellent.
Next morning, we had an idli/dosa breakfast at Vithal Kamath’s restaurant which is just next door to the MTDC resort and moved on to Hiranyakeshi

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Temple, 6kms away, which is the point where the


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Hiranyakeshi river originates.

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An idyllic spot, with a small pond in front of the Hiranyakeshi temple that houses a Shivling, Ganapati idol and of course the Hiranyakeshi Devi idol. Next to this temple, there is an entrance to a cave which we did not dare

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explore as we were told it is not safe to do so in the monsoons when it becomes a safe harbour for a lot of creepy crawlies.

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On the way back to the main road, there is a Ragheshwar Ashram.

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There is a Swayambhu Ganesha temple,

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a Naag Devata temple, in addition to the ashram where Swami Ragheshwar meditated and attained Samadhi. This location is heavenly on the banks of the Hiranyakeshi river.
After a spiritual awakened morning we headed to the most popular waterfall in Amboli, about 3kms on the way to Sawantwadi.

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There are steps carved alongside the waterfall to enable people go halfway up the waterfall. During monsoon, these steps are also under flowing water. Huge crowds are there enjoying their hydraulic massage under this waterfall all through the day.
We went ahead on to Sawantwadi which is just about 30kms from Amboli.

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The road was beautiful right through.
Headed straight to ‘Shilpgram’, managed by the Sawantwadi Municipal Council, which was advertised widely as the place to go to see the wonderful crafts of Sawantwadi. However, to our disappointment, we were told that only the restaurant was open and the crafts/craftsmen were there only during scheduled stops of the luxury train ‘Deccan Odyssey’ to cater to the tourists therein. But the watchman there gave us directions to

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‘Kanekar Toys’ in ‘Chitra Alli’, just a couple of kms away, where we would find the best examples of wooden crafts for which Sawantwadi is famous.

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And indeed, the Woodcraft was amazing. There were vintage cars, touring

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motorcycles and vintage aircrafts all finely crafted from wood! All the shopping had made us hungry so we made our
way back to ‘Shilpgram’ and had some delicious Malwani lunch in excellent

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ambience and served like royalty at a very humble price.

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Now it was time to visit the royals at the Sawantwadi Palace.
You get a guided tour of the palace for a fee of Rs.25/- per head. You are

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taken to the Queen’s Durbar where the Royal Throne made of silver, and a couple of wild animals shot by the Queen are on display along with some sword and shield decorations.

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It is here that you can see and admire the craftsmanship of the artists who

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are busy making ‘Ganjifa’ cards – It had originated in Persia but this art is now practiced only in Sawantwadi. A set of these handmade cards numbering 120 cost Rs.3000/-. They also have a lot of other items like the palanquin and other vintage artefacts that were found in the erstwhile state of Sawantwadi. To wind up the Royal tour you will be taken to their ‘Crafts Sales’ Durbar where you can check out all the different handmade papier-mâché items and some items that were crafted by the Queen herself. The Queen still resides with her family in the adjoining palatial grounds.
We exited the Palace and returned to Amboli. There were still hordes of people dancing in the rain at the waterfalls.
Our next destination was Kavaleshet point which is about 6kms from Amboli. This is a place from where one can get spectacular views but unfortunately for us it was fogged out totally. Having reached there after driving about 2kms on a terrible road, we did not want to return before getting a glimpse of the heavenly views. We waited for about 30mins but were not favoured by the rain gods as the clouds just refused to clear out.
Next on the list was the Nangartaas falls which is about 15kms on the road to Belgaum.

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The roar of the falls and the viewing facility reminds one of the great Jog falls. Not much of a crowd here as you can only view the falls and not frolic around.
Having had our fill of waterfalls and living in the clouds we set back to Mumbai after a hearty breakfast at Vithal Kamath’s, not very early but around 1030am next morning. Our return trip was via Sawantwadi on NH17. Had a great lunch in ‘Alankar’ in Hathkhamba and reached Mumbai, back to earth, after a couple of days in the clouds.


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The route was scenic with lot of ups and downs on good roads, a distance of 545kms.
Total distance travelled – 1179kms. (Mumbai-Kolhapur-Amboli-Sawantwadi-Mumbai)
Car – Indica DLS V2TC
FE – 19kmpl
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Old 13th August 2009, 11:29   #2
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Wow lovely pics....monsoon and western ghats the best combo!
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Old 13th August 2009, 11:32   #3
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some more pictures of this glorious journey!

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Fogged out

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Hiranyakeshi River

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View from Vithal Kamath's restaurant

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Thane creek bridge

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Wooden chandelier in the Sawantwadi palace
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Old 13th August 2009, 11:34   #4
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Magiceye,

Thank you very much, I was missing all these sights as i could not go home this monsoon. God Bless You !
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Old 13th August 2009, 11:39   #5
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Looks lovely! How long did it take you to drive Mum - Amboli?
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Old 13th August 2009, 11:45   #6
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@lohitrao - yes indeed!
@sahir - the pleasure is mine sir!
@msbehave - well it took us about 10 hours because we wet touring around pune for awhile. Should not take more than 8-9hrs of leisure driving otherwise.
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Old 13th August 2009, 11:49   #7
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Quite a unique trip this..I am sure most of us have gone through Amboli & Sawantwadi rushing away to Goa but this is quite an eye opener indeed.Awesome pictures as well and an excellent write up.

Happy Safe driving
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Old 13th August 2009, 13:34   #8
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@ranjit - thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Do spend some time in Amboli/Sawantwadi next time you are passing through. Am sure you will love it!
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Old 13th August 2009, 15:13   #9
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Lovely pics should plan a trip here; looks like the distance from bangalore would be more or less the same as Mumbai
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Old 13th August 2009, 16:23   #10
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I love this particular stretch and have always used this route while travelling from Hyderabad to Goa ( 6 times in last 3 years). And, since i have done twice in monsoons so i completely agree that this part of the country is heaven during this time.
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Old 13th August 2009, 21:53   #11
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I used the same stretch while travelling to Goa in Oct-08. The hills were lush green but w/o fog. Maybe the time we went was a little late morning (11.00 am). BTW, nice pics.
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Old 14th August 2009, 10:34   #12
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I did Amboli some 2 years back, really enjoyed the trip. lovely pic. great place to spend weekend.

some more pic would be appreciated.

ya now where is Ashish Pallod? waiting for his comments.

Uday
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Old 14th August 2009, 10:51   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by udaydesai View Post
ya now where is Ashish Pallod?
I am always here sir.

@MAGICEYE,

Nice pics with nice writeup but you had finished the entire travelogue in the single post.
Better, learn from others how to run travel story for weeks.

There is no mention of Mahadevgad point and Shirgaonkar point.
Had you visited those places?

In the pic of amboli waterfall, i see one man hanging on rope. whats that?

where is you ride pic, man?

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Old 14th August 2009, 11:20   #14
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I wouldnt want to hijack Magicye thread. but, i just couldn't resist posting pictures of the Amboli ghat stretch during my visit to goa in Aug'08.

Enjoy
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Old 14th August 2009, 11:34   #15
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Hey Avi,
That last pic of waterfall is really nice. I think you had taken it with low shutter speed.
I am also tempted to post pics of amboli waterfall and me. Sorry magiceye.
Mumbai-Amboli-Sawantwadi-Mumbai-c.jpg

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